Beach protections now in effect for western snowy plover

Annual beach changes center on nesting areas

Nesting season for the rare western snowy plover begins this month on the Oregon Coast, which means state and federal regulatory and land-management agencies will begin taking steps to help protect the endangered bird.

These protections have been used annually since 1994 to protect known nesting sites. Ropes and posts will be used to protect snowy plover nests, eggs and chicks and to restrict access to the dry sand by pedestrians, horseback riders, and other recreationists at the state's nine nesting sites. Signs will be posted to alert the public of sensitive nesting areas.

Fledgling plover chick numbers doubled from 2010 to 2011, going from 84 to 168, thanks to help from the public and predator control by public land managers. People can still enjoy the beaches near plover areas by using the wet sandy stretch between the nesting sites and the ocean.

The western snowy plover was listed in 1993 under the federal Endangered Species Act. The small shorebird, which is often mistaken for a sandpiper or sanderling, nests on open sandy beaches above the high-tide line. The eggs and young rely primarily on camouflage for protection. Repeated disturbance, whether it's human foot traffic, vehicles, or unleashed dogs, can significantly affect egg and chick survival.

The restrictions will remain in effect until Sept. 15, or until nesting and brood rearing activities are no longer occurring in eight shoreline parcels between the Sutton Creek/Baker Beach area north of Florence and the New River south of Bandon. Areas affected are:

1. Sutton Beach area, Lane County: Recreational use is restricted in the dry sand area (above the mean high tide line) from Sutton Creek estuary for approximately 3.5 miles, including the area north of Berry Creek to the headlands. Dogs must be on leash at all times on wet sand adjacent to this area.

2. Siltcoos River estuary area, Lane County: Recreational use is restricted within an approximate circumference of 4000 feet. ODFW, in partnership with the USFS, will again provide volunteer snowy plover docents at this site to continue public education about the need for the restrictions. In this one location, dogs are prohibited from the wet sand area, including the estuary.

3. Oregon Dunes Overlook beach area, Douglas County: Recreational use is restricted within the dry sand area (above the mean high tide line) for a length approximately 0.75 miles south and 0.75 miles north of the intersection of the Overlook Trail (approximately 1.5 miles). Dogs must be on leash in the wet sand adjacent to this area.

4. Tahkentich Creek estuary area, Douglas County: Recreational use is restricted on the dry sand area (above the mean high tide line) from 500 feet to the south and 0.8 miles to the north of the mouth of Tahkenitch Creek (approximately 0.9 miles). Actual distances north and south of the creek may vary according to the current meander. Dogs must be on leash in the wet sand adjacent to this area.

5. Tenmile Creek estuary area, Douglas County: Recreational use is restricted on the dry sand area (above the mean high tide line) for a length of 0.5 miles to the south and 0.5 miles to the north (1.0 miles). This distance may vary depending upon the location of Tenmile Creek during the season. Actual distances north and south of the creek may vary according to the current meander. Dogs must be on a leash in the wet sand adjacent to this area.

6. Coos Bay North spit area, Coos County: Recreational use is restricted in the dry sand area (above the mean high tide line) adjacent to the Army Corps of Engineers and BLM managed lands beginning about 600 feet north of the North Jetty extending north to the FAA tower (approximately 2.0 miles). During the nesting season only, motor vehicle driving is restricted in the wet sand from 600 feet north of the North Jetty to the FAA tower on the west side of the foredune.

The remaining portion of the ocean shore from the FAA tower northward to the north border of BLM ownership in Township 25 South, Range 13 West, Section 6 will remain open to all recreational use. This distance is approximately 3.1 miles.

7. Bandon State Natural Area to New River area, Coos County: Recreational use is restricted in the dry sand area (above the mean high tide line) from the mouth of China Creek south approximately 2.2 miles. The wet sand adjacent to this area is closed to motor vehicle driving.

8. New River area, Coos and Curry Counties: Under a Cooperative management Agreement with BLM, OPRD and Curry County, recreational use is restricted in the dry sand area (above the mean high tide line) in the southern 0.5 mile of beach in Township 31 South, Range 15 West, Section 5. The beach area due west of Floras Lake remains open to all recreational uses, year-round, except driving.

In the New River ACEC, recreational use is restricted in the dry sand area of the beach. In the event that plovers nest on BLM lands within the exempted areas, BLM will close the nest(s), post the immediate area as restricted, and rope around the nest(s) to limited disturbance.


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